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Herb Reference Guide

Plantain

History

Plantain is native to Europe and was brought over by European Colonists to North America in the early 1700s. It is now widely distributed in temperate, moist locales, along roadsides, in fields and pastures, and is commonly found in lawns and gardens. This plant was a prominent medicinal in the early Anglo-Saxon period where it was highly regarded. Plantain is mentioned in King's American Dispensatory as an analgesic for toothaches. Plantain has also long been regarded as an important vulnerary for irritation and inflammation of the respiratory tract, and was drunk as an infusion with the dried leaves.

Plantain has long been known as an "herbal drawing agent" because of its long history of traditional use for its ability to pull splinters, dirt, pus and infection out of wounds. Because the leaves are readily found in nature, they are often picked, crumbled and used topically on stings and bites as well.

Function

In modern times, plantain has been used to support healthy levels of inflammation both internally as an extract and externally, as a topical agent. Topically, the leaves, or extracts of the leaves are often used to sooth irritated skin. Its ability to support inflammatory pathways in the body often directly impacts the epithelial tissues, such as in the respiratory, digestive and urinary systems. Because plantain naturally contains mucilage, and has moist cooling properties, it has an inherent ability to support mucous membrane health by soothing occasional irritation.

Uses of Plantain

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Plantain contains a variety of glycosides, and flavonoids including baicalin, baicalein, scutellarin apigenin, apigenin-7-glucoside, plantagoside, luteolin, asperuloside, syringin hispidulin, nepetin, plantagonine), iridoids (catalpol, aucubin and acubin derivatives, plantarenaloside), and terpenoids. Plantain also contains small amounts of the sulfur-containing glucoraphenine and sulforaphene. Other constituents include plant acids such as caffeic, chlorogenic, cinnamic, ferulic, fumaric, coumaric, plantagic, planteolic, salicylic, ursolic, and vanillic acid. It also contains allantoin, mucilage, sterols, tannins, and potassium salts.

Parts Used

  • Leaf

Important precautions

Additional Resources

Fleer H, Verspohl EJ. Antispasmodic activity of an extract from Plantago lanceolata L. and some isolated compounds. Phytomedicine. 2007 Jun;14(6):409-15.

Vigo E, et al. In-vitro anti-inflammatory activity of Pinus sylvestris and Plantago lanceolata extracts: effect on inducible NOS, COX-1, COX-2 and their products in J774A.1 murine macrophages. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2005 Mar;57(3):383-91.